Panasonic Lumix TZ60 Review - The Panasonic Lumix TZ60 could well be the most complete travel compact to date. We dig a bit deeper in our full review...
The past few months have seen a host of manufacturers making some pretty bold statements with regards to compact camera production in the wake of pressures from the smartphone camera market.
First of all Olympus announced that it would be cutting down on its entry level compact camera production in order to focus on more advanced models, an announcement which was followed shortly by Fujifilm and then later by Canon.
This doesn’t mean that compact cameras are dead, and in fact certain areas are continuing to grow.
One such area is the travel compact market – one that offers an appealing combination of advanced features and an extensive zoom, all in a compact and pocketable body.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ60 is the latest in one of the most established travel compact line-ups, and it looks like the manufacturer could well be on to another winner…
Panasonic Lumix TZ60 Review – Features
As mentioned arguably the most impressive feature of the TZ60 is the extensive focal range, especially when you consider the compact size in which the optical zoom is houses.
While the TZ60’s predecessor – the TZ40 – featured a reasonable 20x optical zoom, the new model increases the zoom by some 50% and now sports a 30x optic. The lens is a Leica DC Vario-Elmar unit and covers a focal range of 24-720mm in 35mm equivalent terms.
Camera shake is a natural result of such a large zoom being housed in a compact body, although any fears are allayed by the presence of Panasonic’s 5 axis optical image stabilisation – a set-up Panasonic claims will allow photographers to shoot up to three stops slower than previously.
In terms of the sensor, the TZ60 features a 1/2.3in Live MOS sensor that features a resolution of 18.1MP. This is around standard for a camera in the travel compact market, although Panasonic has added one new feature that the TZ range has been crying out for for some time – namely the ability to capture both JPEG and Raw files.
The Venus Engine Processor handles all operational matters, and that include a top continuous shooting speed of some 10fps – albeit for only 6 frame – while the TZ60 can also shoot at 5fps with continuous AF enabled.
Completing the full specification are a host of connectivity features that are sure to appeal to those in the market for a travel compact. These include built-in GPS capture and both Wi-fi and NFC functionality that allows for the wireless transfer of images as well as the remote control of the camera through the Panasonic Image App.
Panasonic Lumix TZ60 Review – Design
Despite featuring a plethora of advanced technology, the TZ60 manages to not be too bulky and will still easily fit in to a small bag or trouser pocket – one of the key credentials of a travel compact.
The control layout is relatively simple, with a single scroll wheel on the rear of the camera taking care of the majority of camera settings.
That being said, the TZ60 does benefit from a ring around the front of the lens that operates as a secondary control input, even controlling the camera’s zoom in automatic shooting mode.
There’s also the benefit of a function button which can be customised to offer one-touch access to more commonly used shooting functionality.
In terms of the camera’s build quality, Panasonic has upgraded the shell of the body to now comprise of a mix part polycarbonate and part magnesium alloy.
This, combined with a textured hand grip on the front of the camera and a raised thumbrest on the rear, gives the camera a premium feel and allows for a solid hold when shooting.
Panasonic Lumix TZ60 Review – Performance and Value
The Panasonic TZ60 features some improvements in terms of focusing speeds, with Panasonic making particular claims about AF performance at the tele end of the zoom.
At shorter focal lengths speeds are as prompt as ever, and right up to around 500mm this speed is maintained. However, while AF speeds are improved at the real far end of the zoom it’s still a touch sluggish, especially in low light conditions.
In terms of start-up and operational speed, the Venus Engine Processor does a great job of keeping things prompt in this department, with the TZ60 certainly being no slouch here.
The model’s LCD screen is certainly bright enough, although it’s definitely welcome that the screen is coupled with a reasonable EVF. With a resolution of around 200k it’s not really well enough specified to check manual focus, it’s a welcome addition to the camera’s specification.
Value for Money
With a launch price of £349, the TZ60 is priced a touch higher than the TZ40 was at launch. However, with the addition of an electronic viewfinder and several other specification enhancements you can certainly say that the slight price increase is justified.
Although at that price the TZ60 is up against some fairly stiff camera competition, on the whole it delivers on its promise of being one of the best travel cameras on the market.
Panasonic Lumix TZ60 Review – Image Quality
In terms of performance when it comes to shooting at higher ISO settings, this is one of the areas in which the TZ60 suffers a little. Although noise is well controlled throughout the ISO range, above ISO 800 noise reduction causes finer detail to be lost and become somewhat smudged.
The model’s white balance, however, is pleasingly reliable even in difficult lighting conditions. The model’s colour rendition is another highlight, delivering pleasing and accurate colours in most conditions.
Although there are no colour profiles per se, a range of filter and scene modes offer more than enough variety.
Panasonic Lumix TZ60 Review – Verdict
Thanks to the inclusion of a new electronic viewfinder, Raw capture functionality and a new polycarbonate and magnesium alloy mixed body, the Panasonic Lumix TZ60 does more than enough to improve on its predecessor.
Throw in the fact that the model’s Wi-fi functionality is class leading, and you’re looking at one of the most complete travel compacts, only really let down by the model’s performance at higher ISO settings.
Panasonic Lumiz TZ60 Review – Sample Image Gallery
These are just a small selection of images captured with the TZ60. For more, head on over to the Panasonic TZ60 review sample image gallery.
Compact cameras are under increasing pressure from smartphones and CSCs with lower price tags, and as a response the latest raft of models is seeing some major improvements.
The TZ60 is no different, and it sees a pair of major additions that some fans have been crying out for for some time.
The first of these is the inclusion of a new EVF. Its addition is certainly welcome although it is lower specified than you’d find on certain other cameras, measuring in at 0.2in and with a resolution of 200k-dots.
Despite this lower specification, when you put the viewfinder to your eye it’s noticeable that the unit features a good refresh rate and an accurate rendition of colours.
Its presence will certainly prove beneficial in bright lighting conditions, while it will also provide some handling and usability benefits when composing images with the camera to the eye.
The rear screen is also far from the best specified screen on the market, although once again Panasonic has ensured the screen punches above its weight with an anti-reflective coating and extra brightness setting which prove adequate even in very bright conditions.
Another welcome addition to the camera’s specification is the ability to shoot Raw files; a feature which, in combination with the new EVF, make the TZ60 an even more serious shooting proposition than before.
In terms of the camera’s build and design, it’s safe to say that the camera has had somewhat of an aesthetic overhaul. Compared to previous models in the series, the TZ60 now has a much more premium feel to it in the hand.
Amateur Photographer’s Technical Editor Richard Sibley gets his hands on the Lumix TZ60
Other handling benefits include the additions of a control ring around the lens which can be assigned to different shooting controls as and when you’ll need to.
Despite being slightly larger than the previous model in the series, the TZ60 still feels light in the hand and certainly compact enough to slide easily in to a trouser pocket. As with previous TZ models, build quality is excellent and it has the feel of a camera which will last the test of time.
So, with the new design, addition of Raw capture and a more than capable electronic viewfinder, Panasonic has looked to place the TZ60 more towards the premium end of the compact camera market.
We’ll find out if it is a success when we come to test the TZ60 later on in the year.